December 13, 2013

Taiwanese Owls

My Christmas present flew in early this year. In fact, it was early November when I got it! 

On our annual trip to Holland I happened to pass my stamp shop of old in The Hague, and although I didn’t really plan to get anything, I suddenly noticed these Taiwanese owls in the window. I remembered they were shown on our website’s forum. They made a great impression at the time because the engravings include secret engraver’s marks. So, needless to say, I rushed in and got them. And it being close to Christmas, I was kindly encouraged to get the other two sets in as well, to have the collection complete.

So when I got the three sets at home, I started researching the engravers. Luckily, the website of the Taiwanese post mentioned the engravers. But it didn’t say anywhere whether these engravers each worked on a different stamp or whether all stamps were co-productions. And also, there were names which were so alike that I was wondering whether they would actually be one and the same engraver, with the differences being explained by translating the Chinese characters into Latin script.

So I tried the easy way and emailed both the Taiwanese Post and the actual printers, asking them for more information. As if… Of course I never heard anything back. I even tried to impress them by mentioning I once worked for the Taipei Representative Office in The Hague for a bit, but even that didn’t persuade them to come back to me.

So I had to do some more research myself. And of course got hopelessly stuck. I did, however, manage to convince myself conclusively that each stamp was engraved by a single engraver, for the secret marks were mainly the engraver’s initials.

I also think I’ve solved the Chen Y Ling versus Chen Yu Ling situation. Both these names are mentioned on the post office website, but the stamp attributed to Chen Y Ling includes the engraver’s mark YU-L, therefore I think I can safely conclude this is one and the same engraver.

Engraved by Huang Lien Tsai, with engraver's marks E (?), H and T
No such luck, though, with Huang Lien Tsai and Huang Lian Cai. Lien supposedly has an E, an H and a T as engraver’s marks, and the two stamps attributed to Lian have either HLT or HUANG. Now, to be honest, I can’t find Lien’s E anywhere, so if that E maybe isn’t right and there should be an L somewhere, then we’re one step closer to concluding that these two are just the one engraver. Especially seeing that Huang Lian Cai's stamp initials of HLT fit Huang Lien Tsai's initials perfectly.

Engraved by Huang Lian Cai, with HLT engraver's mark
So if you’re as mad as me, but cleverer, and have already solved this riddle, or if you speak and read Taiwanese and you can find out whether this is one or two engravers, then please do get in touch so I can finally get some peace of mind! 

See yous later


  1. Good day.
    As I do not collect these three sets of owls, I have no personal observation on the initials.
    However, I live in Taiwan, and I am sure, after checking website of the post office, that "Huang Lien Tsai" and "Huang Lian Cai" are the same engraver. (There are many versions of translation here!)
    This situation also applies to "Chen Yu Ling" and "Chen Y Ling".
    I cannot find any engraver with initials E, H and T. (It is probable that E has been misread, and should be L instead.)
    Best regards,

    1. Thanks very much for confirming my suspicions!